After standing in flood water for months, many trees along the Missouri River are damaged, dying or dead. A workshop will be held tonight in the Sioux City area to teach residents how their water-logged trees may be rescued. Arborist Graham Herbst is starting the long process of assessing flood-damaged trees in the region.
Herbst says early inspections show most smaller trees along the waterway didn’t survive the flood and many more mature trees are wounded.
“We are seeing some die back amongst smaller trees, things that haven’t been able to establish very well yet, and trees that are well into maturity and have too much foliage to keep alive with the flooding,” Herbst says.
“There’s going to be long-term implications over the next couple of years, if not longer.” Herbst says half of a tree’s living tissue is underground, so the moving water could have caused erosion around a root system or a build-up of silt. Both can be fatal for a tree.
He says, “Whether you have erosion around the soil, which can affect stability, or you have sediment deposits which are going to continue to make it hard for the tree roots to get oxygen out of the ground, so one way or another, both have negative impacts on the tree’s growth.”
There is a small bit of good news regarding unwanted trees along the river. “Trees that are not quite as adapted to this area and being inundated by flood waters on a regular basis will be the first to go,” Herbst says. “In a lot of cases, those are trees that are not native to here and sometimes creep in and crowd out native species so, that’s the good side of things.”
Herbst says trees that are damaged beyond repair will have to come down as they are a safety hazard. Some symptoms of damage include a leaning trunk, exposed roots, early fall coloration and leaf drop. Two workshops on caring for flood-damaged trees are planned. One will be held tonight at the South Sioux City High School auditorium from 6:30 to 8 P.M.
Another workshop will be held Thursday at the Fontenelle Nature Association in Bellevue, Nebraska, (just south of Omaha) from 6:30 to 8 P.M.